Searching for

Marriage Records

of

Ontario, Canada

 

Canadian records for Genealogists

&

Family Historians

 

A foundation for this article was posted to the Guild of One-Name Studies mailing list through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. on 12 January 2022,

and has been updated a number of times since.

__________

 

Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in the Province of Ontario, Canada, on 1 July 1869, two years after the Dominion of Canada was created. Registration of vital events is a Provincial matter in Canada, and the dates of commencement differ from Province to Province in this country.

Records of civil marriage registration created in Ontario after certain dates (as well as birth and death registration records) are held in a closed condition by our Province's Office of the Registrar General. The year of accessibility rolls forward one year every year (usually in late spring).

This year (essentially still 2021), civil or provinicial records of Marriage registrations filed in 1939 or more recently are accessible only by application to the Office of the Registrar General. The Registrar General places serious restrictions on who may apply for and receive a copy of a marriage record, and who may not. Online application is possible, through https://www.orgforms.gov.on.ca/eForms/start.do. Indexes of marriage registration records created in 1939 and later are also not accessible. It's anticipated that civil records of marriage registrations filed in Ontario in 1939, and the indexes for 1939, will become accessible later in the spring/early summer of 2022 (although covid mitigation protocols may postpone this).

All civil marriage registration records created after 1 July 1869 up to the Registrar General's cut-off point (currently 31 December 1938) are held by the Archives of Ontario. <ancestry.ca> presently has digital images of all extant Ontario civil marriage records that are known to exist through the end of 1938. Access the collection through https://www.ancestry.ca/search/collections/7921. Please note that this is a subscription access service. Ancestry is also now the (free) access point for these records at the Archives of Ontario. See http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/en/tracing/marriage_registrations.aspx for details about what records are accessible, and how to access desired records.

FamilySearch presently has digital images of all extant Ontario civil marriage records through 1927, accessible through https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1784216 (access requires setting up a free account).

Note that there are some significant gaps in the record continuum after 1 July 1869, principally in the 1880s and 1890s, particularly for some areas, perhaps due to failure on the part of officiants to forward records of marriage ceremonies they performed to responsible officials. Records of many marriage registration records simply do not exist from some places and periods, even though a marriage ceremony is known to have taken place.

Prior to 1 July 1869, some records of marriages registered with District and County officials exist - District records from roughly 1798 to 1858, and County records from roughly 1858 through to the end of June 1869. These earlier records are also held by the Archives of Ontario, and they are also accessible through both <ancestry.ca> (or it's other regional offerings) and <familysearch>. These are sometimes presented as stand-alone collections of index and image sets. Be aware that there are huge gaps in these records. Be aware also that Roman Catholic priests were not obligated to report marriages they performed to either District or later County officials. Nor were Anglican ministers obligated to report, although some did in the County period.

Accessing digital versions of local newspapers may return notices of pending or recently performed ceremonies, and sometimes of 50 year and similar anniversaries.

Prior to 1 July 1869, very incomplete ecclesiastical records exist for different places in the Province, the earliest of which date from 1784. Most church bodies with congregations in the Province adhere to the Office of the Registrar General's restrictions with respect to access to original records within their organization. Major bodies - Anglicans (Church of England), Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, maintain separate Archives for records they hold, but original records from many congregations of many 'lesser' denominations continue to be held at local churches. Many Presbyterian, Congregational, and Wesleyan Methodist congregations in Canada elected to unify in 1925, and all extant records from churches that made this decision were collected to the United Church Archives in Toronto (but coverage is spotty before about 1894). Many congregations that opted to not unify in 1925 have since collapsed, and any records that were extant are now mostly lost.

There are also random sets of published indexes and transcripts, which cover marriage notices published; lists of licenses and/or bonds which have survived; or marriage register entries; and much more, from many places in the Province, for many periods. The numbers are simply too great to consider listing them here. Web sites of local branches of the Ontario Genealogical Society (now Ontario Ancestors) would be good places to start investigating to see what might be available.

Contact Bruce D. Murduck   concerning any matter at all.